Dan Lutz is without peer in the history of California art. His unique mixture of expressionist technique and fauvist pallette emphasize the physical quality of oil paint in a way that paralleled the Abstract Expressionists, though his work only ever flirted with fullblown abstraction. Original Expression highlights the originality and genius of one of Southern California’s most progressive midcentury artists.
Lutz first reached fame as a great Regionalist painter working in Los Angeles in the 30s and early 40s, however by the late 40s, he had left behind the concept of storytelling in his paintings. The famous Scene painter began to experiment in color. Following trips to Mexico, he began to rely exclusively on the impact of color as the strength of his canvases. In a 1952 article, influential LA critic Arthur Millier spoke about the change in Lutz’s work, “The precise delineation of objects seen in earlier works was thrown to the winds. Contrasts of light and dark were sharpened. Gestures were drawn in single sweeps of brush or palette knife. Pigmentation became thicker. Action, spirit and light were broadly and strongly expressed and details sacrificed. And – a striking innovation – colors of neonlike hues and luminosity appeared.”
Lutz was born in Decatur, Illinois in 1906. He received his first formal artistic training at the Art Institute of Chicago before being awarded a traveling fellowship that allowed him to tour Europe in 1931. When he returned, he finished his education at USC and eventually became the head of the painting department, where he remained until 1942 when he took a position at Chouinard. From 1940 through 1972, he was represented by the prestigious Dalzell Hatfield Galleries in LA. His work can be found in museums around the country, including the Metropolitan, the Whitney, The De Young, LACMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
3:13 | Nathan Vonk